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Update: Takata Airbag Recalls Expanded, More Troubling Details Uncovered

In the two months since Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP filed a class action on behalf of consumers who own or lease vehicles with the defective and dangerous exploding Takata airbags, several new and troubling developments have emerged.

The Takata Cover-Up

In early November 2014, two former employees of Takata Corp. subsidiary TK Holdings, Inc. publicly announced in a New York Times exposé that TK Holdings, Inc. tested the defective airbags in 2004 after a Takata airbag exploded and shot shrapnel at a driver in Alabama.  According to those former employees, out of concern that the airbags may be defective, Takata, through subsidiary TK Holdings Inc., (collectively, “Takata”) tested 50 airbags over a period of three months at its Auburn Hills, Michigan facility.  During those tests, conducted on airbags retrieved from junk yards, the airbags’ steel inflater canisters cracked in two of the airbags.  According to the employees, one of whom was a senior lab technician at TK Holdings, Inc. at the time, this cracking could lead to rupture.

Per the statements of the former employees, lab technicians conducting the tests were troubled by the results and immediately began investigating a fix in anticipation of a recall of vehicles containing the defective airbags, and presumably, for airbags manufactured in the future.  However, when the testing results were reported to the decision-makers at the Takata subsidiary, the executives discounted the testing results, ordered the testing laboratory employees to delete all results of the testing from their computers and other files, and instructed them to throw away all of the tested airbags in the trash.  Takata, nor its subsidiaries, took any further action at that time.  The former employees tied this investigation and reported defect to the current recall.

Criminal Probe:

Senators Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Markey (D-Mass.) are so troubled by the new reports of a cover-up that they have publicly called for a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

Expanded Recalls Issued, but No Relief in Sight:

On November 18. 2014, the United States Department of Transportation called on Takata and the automakers to expand their airbag recalls nationwide and ordered a response by December 5, 2014. Since that Order was issued, some, though not all, of the manufacturers have expanded their recalls in some degree.  Takata, however, has inexplicably maintained its position that there is no need for a nationwide recall–despite the order from the Department of Transportation, despite mounting evidence that Takata hid the defect for more than ten years, and despite the fact that according to two former TK Holdings, Inc. employees, the airbags are all defective.

Even for those consumers who are newly affected by the nationwide recalls, owners and lessees are still left with unsafe vehicles.  Takata is simply unable to manufacture enough airbags to replace the millions of defective and dangerous ones installed in the recalled vehicles.  According to one report, it may take–at a minimum–two years until all the defective airbags are able to be replaced.

To obtain additional information on the class action filed by Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP against Takata, its subsidiaries, and vehicle manufacturers and find out whether you may have a potential claim, please contact the experienced attorneys at Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP at (215) 864-2800 or by using the below contact form.

Previous Takata Coverage:

CONSUMER SAFETY ALERT: Millions of Vehicles Recalled for Defective and Dangerous Airbags

Update: Class Action Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Owners and Lessees of Vehicle Containing Defective Takata Airbags